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  • Writer's pictureScott M Williamson

Puccini is Passion: Apprentice Preview at Hollins University

Yesterday, hosted by Hollins University, a dozen of our fabulous Apprentice Artists and the "glad-she's-new-in-town" pianist Anna de Groot, offered a standing-room-only preview performance of Opera Roanoke's 42nd season, featuring the music of Puccini "and his world," accompanied by poetry readings. The program and commentary offered an overview of Opera Roanoke's other projects, including a prospective new opera from a local composer, another season of "Live in HD" broadcasts from the MET, hosted by our great friend and partner, Virginia Western Community College. A new partnership with WVTF Music will feature our own Steven White providing 15' intro's to each of the MET radio broadcasts this season. WVTF Music is now on FM 89.5 in Roanoke-Lynchburg; we're excited about this new platform for classical music in our region, and look forward to spreading the word about great opera for all!

I appreciate all the positive feedback from friends, patrons and acquaintances in the audience, many of whom commented on not only the returning artists' growth but the talents and range of our new apprentices, and the creative way the program was put together, thanks to the talents of the young performers as singers, actors, dancers, stage managers and assistant directors!

Here's a link to William Matthews' spot-on classic "A Night at the Opera." It's unexpected turn in the last stanza offers readers / listeners a wonderfully surprising "cadenza" (and that is but one of many shared traits between poetry and opera).

Thank you, Mr Matthews for your pitch-perfect embodiment of the "hope for accuracy / and passion, both." Thank you for so effectively articulating the near-impossible task of the poet or singer: "They have to hit the note / and the emotion, both, with the one poor / arrow of the voice." When the stakes are high - as they always are in an aria or poem, for why else would someone "sing" it? - every performer can relate with the poet's pithy final cadence: "Beauty's for amateurs."

Thank you, Opera Roanoke Apprentice Artists for making yesterday such a memorable afternoon. Your "arrows of the voice" hit their targets, with beauty and passion, and impressive accomplishment. Bravi tutti!

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